Swimming with Giants

Cliff diving in St. Lucia

Cliff diving in St. Lucia

I’ve experienced many things during my travels. I’ve snorkeled with black tip sharks, went scuba diving with a wild moray eel, jumped off a 50 ft. cliff… but nothing compares to my recent encounter swimming with giants.

These gentle giants can reach lengths of up to 30 feet

These gentle giants can reach lengths of up to 30 feet

While visiting the island of Cebu, Philippines I had the chance to tour the small municipality of Oslob where majestic whale sharks can be found lazily swimming the shorelines. I chose to indulge in the rare opportunity to swim with these creatures and was thrilled with my encounter.

Photo Credit: Island Trek Tours

Photo Credit: Island Trek Tours

The tour is offered by Island Trek Tours, an exceptional outfit that specializes in providing safe, conscientious, interactions with the 6-meter (20-foot) plus gentle giants. What I like most about this particular outfit is that their main goal is to keep the animals safe; regardless of how many people come to see them.

I met my guide early and was immediately directed to a mandatory, short introduction by onsite marine biologists who explained what was and wasn’t appropriate for my experience. Wearing sunblock, feeding, and touching were no-nos and I was thrilled at how much care was expressed.

Photo Credit: www.dms27.com

Photo Credit: www.dms27.com

The tours are only offered for 6 hours a day to ensure that the animals aren’t over taxed. I was also impressed to see no containments, the whale sharks are free to come and go as they please. Since they are well feed with fresh krill, the giant fish hang around and seem to actually enjoy the interaction with the small groups that are brought out to visit them.

Photo Credit: Greenpeace

Photo Credit: Greenpeace

Each group is allowed only a 30-minute time slot and, believe me, it flies by. I jumped in as soon as my small boat stopped moving and was immediately dumbstruck by the pure size of these fish. They are constantly moving and, although I physically struggled not to reach out and stroke them as I was instructed, they did thrill me with a bump or two!

Whale sharks eat between 1.5 and 2.7 kg (3-6lbs) of plankton an hour

Whale sharks eat between 1.5 and 2.7 kg (3-6lbs) of plankton an hour

They are peaceful, sweet souls and never once did I fear them as they eagerly opened their gaping mouths to eat the fish that was constantly being offered to them. (Click here to see a video of these giants)

My encounter was made better by the expertise and friendliness of the staff. They’re knowledgeable, patient, and personable. Once they knew I wasn’t intimidated by the animals they made it a point to make sure that the whales got as close as possible. They were happy to answer my thousand questions and even joked that I could have a job there if I wanted!

Sea foam green grotto

Sea foam green grotto

My time with the whale sharks was over far too soon and I headed in to the shore. Included in my package was a trip to cool down at the nearby Tumalog Falls. So, after turning in my snorkeling gear, we headed out up a nearby road to the falls.

The road is steep but what awaits is breathtaking

The road is steep but what awaits is breathtaking

There is a steep downhill walk but for just 30 pesos one of the locals will take you round trip to experience the breathtaking sea foam green pools. The freshwater is filtered by a multi-step, cascading gentle waterfall. The wide, shallow basin is perfect for wading and the showers produced are just strong enough to wash off the seawater from your snorkelling experience.

Majestic tranquility

Majestic tranquility

The views are breathtaking and, although beautiful, pictures simply don’t do it justice. This was a perfect ending to a perfect tour experience.

If you intend to visit Cebu I would highly recommend that you not miss out on this tour. It is one of the highlights of all my travel experiences and one that I will be doing again. I would also recommend booking with the exceptional Island Trek Tours to ensure that your encounter is the best it can be.

I would like to send a special thank you to Edgar Mirambel for organizing my tour.

For more information or to book online contact:

Island Trek Tours

Mobile Number (Sun): +63 925.897.8687
Mobile Number (Globe): +63 915.138.2988
Email: info@islandtrektours.com
Website: www.islandtrektours.com
Cangcua-ay, Tan-awan Oslob Cebu

Special thanks to the Department of Tourism Central Visayas Product Development Division for their generosity in making this trip possible and Cebu Pacific Air for providing me with transportation to their namesake island.

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Marie Hernandez

Destination and Hotel Marketer, Freelance Travel Writer/Blogger at SeriouslyTravel
Marie Hernandez is a Destination and Hotel marketer, social media manager, travel writer, full time traveler, and the founder and author behind SeriouslyTravel. Her passion for travel and food inspires her to seek new places, new cuisine, and new adventures. Her desire is to inspire everyone to explore the world; even if it's just in your own back yard. Marie also writes for several outside publications including Hotels Combined, TripZilla Magazine, The Hotel Guide, eOasia blog, AsiaOne blog, and A1Travel.